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The Lafayette Bedrock Valley System is a complex of bedrock valleys that converge on and diverge from Lafayette, Indiana. The primary trunk valley of the system, composed of the narrow Marion Valley Section on the east and the broad Mahomet Valley Section on the west, is the classic “Teays Valley” of the Midwest. If such a continuous Teays drainage truly existed, it represents only the early part of the history of the Lafayette Bedrock Valley System in Indiana.

Origins of the valley parts and their form remain enigmatic. Although the Marion crosses major rock structure, the course and the contrasting forms of the parts reflect structural and lithologic control. Contrasting valley forms, valley deeps, and possible inset benches may reflect one event or multiple events in a single valley, or disparate events in other valleys; or the features may reflect external events, such as incision through forebulge or erosion beneath bursting ice dams.

Although the origins of the valley system are conjectural, the fill sequences within give evidence of the nature and timing of the demise of the system. The Marion valley is filled with a plug of old lacustrine and glaciolacustrine sediments included in the Blackford Member of the Banner and Jessup Formations. These sediments were deposited in a lake dammed between ice at the valley bends at Logansport, Indiana, and St. Marys, Ohio. Deposited at the dams were subaqueous fan deposits of coarse-grained outwash and tills of both basal-meltout and sediment gravity-flow origin. The tills include the red claystone-bearing West Lebanon Till Member on the west, and the Wilshire Till Member on the east. An uppermost tongue of the West Lebanon till caps the Blackford lacustrine sediments, indicating southeastward progression of the West Lebanon ice into the lake and ultimately over the entire fill sequence. The relative age of plugging of this valley section is suggested by the West Lebanon, which overlies magnetically reversed (>0.7-m.y.-old; marine isotopic stage 22?) sediments in western Indiana. The plugging of the Marion valley by West Lebanon ice corresponds in time with the plugging of the valley in Ohio by Wilshire ice (and the deposition of the Minford Silts) and marks the end of classic Teays-stage regional drainage.

The Mahomet valley subsequently was reexcavated as part of a Metea-Mahomet drainage system, heading in northeastern Indiana. This valley is filled with younger, interfingered outwash and till, which are included in the Mahomet Member and the Brookston Till Member of the Banner and Jessup Formations. These deposits represent aggrading braided stream and fan environments in front of southwestward-advancing Brookston ice. The relative age of plugging of this valley section is given by the Vandalia Till Member of the Glasford Formation, an Illinoian till that caps the valley fill, and by the West Lebanon till, which was apparently cut out prior to valley filling. The final plugging of the Mahomet marks the end of any deeply incised drainage in north-central Indiana.

With the demise of the Mahomet drainage outlet, development of an upper Wabash drainage system began. The fill of bedrock valleys south of the Marion-Mahomet trunk valley contains evidence of multiple erosional surfaces. The gradients of these surfaces suggest a merging at Lafayette into early equivalents of the modern Wabash drainage, exiting into the Wabash bedrock valley via the Attica cutoff or across the rock sill above Independence.

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